Location And Media: Finding Its Way

“Big Data” is a phrase that has spent the last few years making dinner parties uncomfortable for media planners everywhere. It means everything and nothing at the same time.

“We don’t actually care about YOU, the individual known as Bob Jones,” you tell them. “You’re just a set of behaviors and actions tied to a number,” you continue.

Meanwhile, we spend our time planning media against these audiences. Statistical modeling is our friend and a “reasonable degree of certainty” helps us define the success of our campaigns.

What’s wrong with this?

For the most part, the data is all the same. While it works (very well) at driving conversions against our clients’ goals, we are getting paid to deliver great work, strategic thinking, and creative solutions.  The “big data” applications that are being used by every one of our competitors have become, in many ways, the easy way out.

So how do we get better? One way is to find partners who are making this data better, through creative applications of under-utilized sources. One space that has exploded with options – and made headlines at this year’s Mobile World Congress – is location-based solutions. Partners like Foursquare, xAd, and even Snapchat have certainly made our lives as media planners interesting lately.

Foursquare the data company
Foursquare recently raised a down round – they de-valued their company in an attempt to raise more capital as they pivot their entire model toward using their location data as a targeting and verification tool, instead of an advertising platform. Their creative solution uses a mix of active and passive data; first party check-ins from Swarm, passive check-ins from users seen within verified locations, location data from 92,000 partner apps and services (including heavy-hitters like Apple maps, Windows phones, Twitter, Pinterest, Waze, Vine, and more), and a few other levels of location data. They weight this data and apply varying levels of verifiability to the locations in building their visit database.


This creates an opportunity beyond Foursquare’s owned platforms – they can now use this data for ad targeting on a vast scale. And on top of it all, they can follow up by measuring the visit rates from these ads and verify visit lift resulting from our campaign.

Keyword-based location targeting
xAD unveiled a tool at Mobile World Congress that uses their location data to fill a search adjacent space, tagging their 100 million locations with keywords, and allowing advertisers to target these keywords through ads in 70,000 mobile apps reaching 300 million global users. By injecting relevance, advertisers can more accurately target – and be useful to – consumers.

Consumers are actively sharing their location
These announcements coincide with consumers sharing their location more than ever – from tech platforms to advertisers. Tags, prompts and useful push notifications that require location services have created a world with more data than ever before.

Snapchat, for example, recently launched location-based geofilters for anyone – or any location. The example the platform uses to promote the offering focuses on a filter around the location of a woman’s birthday party; about as granular as you can get in the world of relevant, location-initiated data.

Location is the first data-heavy targeting channel that is seeing this sweeping second wave of innovation. We can only hope to see this trend continue, leading to a media landscape full of strategic opportunities that allow us to craft the perfect plans for the needs and goals of our clients.